Handel, Mozart, Schubert – 2022
After a 'blank' Season 2021/2022 due to the pandemic, Oxford Orpheus returned with workshops culminating in a Concert on 26 February 2022 - featuring works by Handel, Mozart and Schubert. The report below includes Robert's opening address, and links to video-clips of concert highlights.
OPENING ADDRESS FROM OUR MUSIC DIRECTOR – ROBERT DEAN
Good evening everyone. I can hardly believe we’re back!!
Two years ago almost to the day, Oxford Orpheus sang a performance of Elijah in this hall little knowing what lay ahead and that their good work in singing for charity would be silenced. The baritone singing Elijah in that performance had a bright vocal future ahead of him – but at the first lockdown in March 2020, he too was silenced and every contract he was looking forward to fulfilling, was immediately cancelled often with little or no financial compensation. As you can imagine. this was a devastating blow for him but his case was typical and one of many in the performing arts. As the act of singing was increasingly seen as a danger to public health, many singers had to find any kind of work to pay the bills, the government leaving many less well off artists in the profession stranded, with no support whatsoever. For some, this in itself was too much and they have since left the profession for good.
However, one gleam of hope for many, was the financial support provided by Help Musicians,
Help Musicians is a charity that for 100 years has been working hard to make a meaningful difference to the lives of musicians across the UK, creating a world where musicians can thrive.
Sadly, the impact of the pandemic means the charity is needed more than ever. Last year they were able to provide financial hardship support to over 19,000 music creators and increase access to mental health services by 40%. In 2022 this ongoing need will continue at scale while the music sector recovers and rebuilds.
At the end of the concert there will be a bucket collection and we urge you to give generously. However, we are well aware that the pandemic has made us all lighter in our pockets as we have got so used to tapping cards on machines. If you have enjoyed any part of tonight’s concert, please consider sending a donation directly to Help Musicians through their website.
Back to the start: we begin with Zadok the Priest and an admittedly premature but unabashed observance of the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee Celebrations. Later we shall be singing two settings of the Latin mass, both of which in the final Agnus Dei end with the words “dona nobis pacem”: give us peace. Never have these words had more resonance for us than today as our thoughts turn to Ukraine and the horrors being perpetrated there – not only a displacement of the population but the mounting of an assault on everyone’s security there and in the Western world. Therefore we would like to dedicate this concert to the brave, brave people of Ukraine – dona nobis pacem indeed!
The retiring collection for Help Musicians raised more than £670!
SOME COMMENTS FROM THOSE SINGING ON THE DAY:
- I think we owe YOU all for giving us the opportunity to crawl out of our caves and bellow/croak away as in the good old days. It was such a wonderful uplifting programme and the soloists were fab and of course our conductor is beyond praise. Please thank him from the bottom of my heart.
- It was so good to hear that Robert was pleased with how things went on Saturday! As ever – especially as some of us had not sung much – if at all – since orpheus two years ago, it seemed like a minor miracle when he worked his usual magic on us and somehow filled us all with his enthusiasm and delight to be involved in the workshop and in such a wonderful concert. Last Saturday was a time of real joy and excitement after such a difficult couple of years. I would like to thank him from the bottom of my heart for bringing the best out of us all, but especially for giving us back the gift of communal singing, which had been so sorely missed. Singing on one’s own is a pale shadow of the joy of doing it as collaborative venture guided by a man of such humanity, humour and skill. Thank you Robert!